A GOLDEN eagle and new born lamb were the latest victims of a sea eagle attack in Oban, at Clachan Farm, Kilninver.

Farmer Colin MacFadyen who looks after 500 Blackface ewes and 35 Luing cattle, recalled the events of last Friday afternoon: “That morning I had helped a ewe deliver twins and looked above me to see a sea eagle sparring with two golden eagles – but didn’t think much of it at the time.

"A few hours later, I returned to check on the new lambs and was taken aback to see this giant sea eagle – with a wing span of around two metres – sitting picking at the fresh carcass of one of the lambs. On closer inspection I could see a golden eagle lying dead about two feet away and it was obvious from the talon marks around its head that the other bird had killed it,” he said.

“I’ve never had trouble here before because of my situation – my land is low lying, whereas up on the hills the farmers don’t have the same protection and my neighbours are due to start lambing mid-April and I hope this isn’t going to be a problem for them.

“It’s a real pity to see our national birds – golden eagles – being killed. There is a reason these things died out in the past and incidents like these demonstrate the impact the reintroduction of rare birds is having,” he concluded.

Colin’s father and chairman of the Environmental Land Use committee for NFUS, Angus MacFadyen, commented: “NFUS are working closely with Scottish Natural Heritage and the Argyll and Lochaber Sea Eagle group, to try and sort out the growing concerns over the sea eagle population – which is increasing way quicker than had been projected.

“It’s a real concern for the conservation side of things as the sea eagles are taking more than just lambs – they are threatening local black grouse and waders, and are clearly impacting on our golden eagles,” he continued. “In my own glen, there was a golden eagle which had nested there since I was a boy and a couple of years ago it was chased away by a sea eagle – they’re taking over!

“We have invested a lot of time and money into this management group, looking at ways we can control the birds. We are not asking for a cull of the birds but for them to be reallocated – I’ve made it clear to the group that hill sheep and sea eagles cannot exist together."

A spokesperson from SNH commented: "We arranged for a post mortem to be carried out on the dead golden eagle which showed its injuries were consistent with wounds inflicted by the talons of another eagle.

"Most of the white-tailed eagle population is found on Mull, Skye and the Outer Hebrides and the same areas also have important golden eagle populations. The 2015 national golden eagle survey showed stable or increased population in all three areas despite increases in white-tailed eagles," she said.

"The two species do interact, sometimes aggressively and are capable of killing each other, this is natural behaviour. To date we have no evidence that one is negatively affecting the other."